It’s an effort to pool the knowledge of university professors and students around the globe and produce 1,000 university textbooks using wiki technology. The books will span undergraduate subjects from biology to literature to computer science. There are millions of university teachers around the world and tens of millions of students, whose knowledge could be put to greater use, says project instigator Rick Watson at the University of Georgia in Athens. Well, it’s not an entire free-for-all. Anyone will be able to contribute to the new textbooks, true — but unlike wikipedia, the online, user-made encyclopedia, only an editor will be able to approve contributions. Otherwise the texts risk being wrong, long and hard to follow, with students being able to fall back on the old “but it’s in the text, sir” excuse for wrong answers in their essays.
The particular goal of this project is to create free books for those students in developing countries who cannot afford traditional textbooks, which can cost $100 or more.